Is it better to have Carpet or hardwood flooring in your bedroom?
My customers seem to be split on this one, and my simple answer is that it depends on 2 things: 1) what is your budget and 2) what did you grow up with?
Most customers and real estate agents agree that hardwood is preferred for common living areas such as the living room and dining room. In Westchester NY (as well as Mid-Atlantic and Northeast), by far hardwood is the preference. It looks better, it’s easier/less expensive to maintain, it lasts longer and it improves the value to the home. Even though it costs more than laminate flooring or carpet, it will last so much longer so that in the long run, it will actually cost less.
But, for the bedroom, customers seem to be more split – probably 60% prefer hardwood and 40% prefer carpet.
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Hardwood floors cost more, so I definitely have some people that would prefer hardwood, but can only afford carpet, so they wind up with carpet. Ironically, the hardwood will cost them less in long run as it doesn’t need to be replaced every 7 yrs or so. (But, I understand and appreciate that for some this doesn’t matter because they have a limited budget now and they need to do something now).
Some prefer carpet for the bedroom since it’s warmer and softer on their feet. This appears to be more of an issue in Northeast/Mid Atlantic where is gets cold here in the winter. And, if the bedrooms are over a garage, it’s even more of a concern. Also, some have little kids that play on the floor often, so they figure its better to have something soft there until they are older.
Others prefer hardwood since it looks nicer and gives it a more formal and richer look. They will then use area rugs under the beds so they have something soft on their feet. Many customers also prefer hardwood because it’s easier to clean and maintain and tends to hold less germs/bacteria, etc. Those with allergy or asthma concerns also prefer hardwood for this reason.
What’s interesting (when budget is not the issue) is that most customers prefer the surface that they grew up in their bedroom when they were younger. After all, that’s what they are used to. It makes them feel comfortable. What is also very interesting is when I work with newly married couples moving into their first home where one of them grew up with carpet and the other hardwood. It’s fascinating watching their decision-making process. Of course, usually the wife wins, so whatever she grew up with is the right answer.
If you are about to put your home on the market and you need to replace your bedroom flooring (i.e. the carpet is dirty and/or smells and/or is taste specific), I generally advise customers to spend whichever costs less and is line for the price/type of home and neighborhood. Because buyers who would be moving in are split, it’s challenging to predict which they would prefer.
- If a customer has hardwood floors underneath their carpet, I advise them to rip up the carpet and refinish the floors. This will cost them less than replacing it with carpet and will show it off best to potential buyers. If the buyer prefers hardwood, they are all set…and they see that hardwood is an option and the homeowner has improved the value of the home. If the buyer prefers carpet, they can then choose their own carpet or even get an area rug. This way, they are choosing their own style, color and price range.
- If there is plywood under the carpet, I generally recommend that customers replace the carpet with a light neutral colored cut pile carpet. Just a simple carpet that will appeal to the widest range of buyers in color and style. For a bedroom, most prefer carpet that is cut (rather than looped) as it is softer on your feet. We generally find something that somewhat soft and not terribly expensive. For the Westchester/New York metro area, that is often called a “textured” carpet. Stay away from “friezes” as these look a bit like “shag” and are rather dated.
- If you live in a high end area, and you have the budget, consider upgrading to solid hardwood. You should consult your real estate agent on this to understand the other homes in your area (your competition) – what is selling and for what prices. If you have a plywood subfloor and are considering upgrading to hardwood floors, it’s generally better to invest in solid hardwood floors as these look better and will be consistent with the hardwood in the other areas of the home. Plus, it will give a new buyer the option to change the color of the floors. Have a flooring contractor price out different options for you. Often, by trading down from “select grade” to “No 1 common” solid hardwood floors, you can save money so that the price difference vs. an engineered hardwood is not significantly different, but the look and value for the home is much different. Sometimes, when you work an experienced and creative flooring expert, they can find good solutions for you. 2 weeks ago, I had a customer where a stager suggested an engineered hardwood floor…and it turned out that I could actually do solid hardwood and refinish their steps for LESS than adding engineered hardwood. So, it’s always best to consult an expert.
Regardless, both hardwood and carpeting can work for bedroom, so select what is right for you if you are living or moving into the home.
I wrote this e-book to help new home buyers make smart decisions when looking for homes with hardwood floors…or looking to buy a home and then add hardwood. I’ve packaged all of my best tips into this book and hope it will help you make smarter choices in your flooring choices and in buying a home that can support high quality floors.